Monday, 30 November 2015

Natwat Home Cafe

Being someone who's always busy and running around doing something or another, it was nice not to be in a hurry going somewhere and to come to Natwat Home Cafe with the girls after my Sunday morning Zumba class. Yes, we do need to reward ourselves once in a while after a good work out!

I really like Natwat Home Cafe. It's a cute and chic little cafe, and it's great that it's not SO busy around Sunday lunch time, so I felt like I could really relax and chill out here.

After perusing through the menu, I must say, it was actually quite difficult to decide what to eat. I wanted to try to many things!

The prices seem quite reasonable too, for example, a latte costs 60 baht. I decided to go for the sweet potato latte, (60baht)  just because it sounded interesting. What's that? It's steamed sweet potato, milk, maple syrup and served with mascapone cheese. I asked for "not sweet" and it turned out to be lovely. The latte was quite smooth, although there was still a slight grainy texture from the sweet potato. It was worth a try.

Sweet Potato Latte (in front) - 60baht
After some deliberation, I decided to try the Baked Eggs, which consisted of 2 eggs, home made meatballs, tomato sauce, tomatoes, black olives, coriander, jalapeno, pesto and parmesan cheese. 165 baht. Incidentally, our meals took quite a bit of time to come out, but when it did (so please be patient!), it tasted as great as it looked. The sourdough bread was delicious and dense, and perfect for soaking up the juices. The home made meat balls were really good, and the black olives gave the dish a nice rich contrast to the tomato flavours.

Baked Eggs. 165 baht.
One friend decided to try the Chorizo Sandwich and she said it was very nice too.

Natwat Home Cafe is a lovely cafe. A place I could go back time and time again. The staff is very friendly and welcoming. The menu has many interesting dishes including various deserts and pasta dishes that I'd like to try. There is some parking behind the cafe.

Natwat Home Cafe
330/2 Charoenrat Rd, Watgate
Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 081 716 1608
Facebook page:
Opens: 7:30am - 4:30pm  Tuesdays-Sundays
Close: Mondays

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

China Kitchen - Szechuan Cuisine. Shangri-La Hotel

I've always thought Chinese food at Shangri-La Hotel is excellent (as it should be!). At the beginning of last year, I did a review on the then called Shang Garden. Their Chinese restaurant is now called China Kitchen, and also serves Szechuan food.

Szechuan food! I was very excited when I received a promotional email about this around May of this year. I suddenly thought of the amazing dishes that I've had in China with the super intense flavours and spiciness, and at the same time, the mouth numbing / tingly sensation from the szechuan peppercorns. Ah... I was in heaven. 

I have been to China Kitchen a couple of times since May and each time, the food has been wonderful. I didn't do a review then as I was with a client and it was hardly appropriate to take out the camera to take food photos while we were discussing property deals in Chiang Mai!

I remember though, on my first visit, what really stood out for me was the Fried Bitter Gourd with Egg White and Shrimps (110 baht). These were like soft and fluffy pancakes. So good!

Recently, China Kitchen launched a new seafood menu and invited me to come to try it, and I must say, I was quite impressed looking at the menu of various seafoods, and the prices seemed quite reasonable too. Prices range from around 190 baht for the Steamed Green Shell Mussels with Black Bean Sauce to 680 baht for the Mapo Lobster in Szechuan Style.

The Mapo Lobster was lovely, and quite impressively presented with the lobster meat (from the body) being used in the mapo tofu. The lobster meat was sweet and firm in the "sauce" of tofu squares (lovely and silky in texture) and a bit of bean paste, which adds another dimension to the flavour of the dish. BTW, the lobster "body" is not there just for decoration! I really enjoyed digging out the meat from the lobster claws (which had been deep fried with a thin, salty batter).

Incidentally, the szechuan dishes here are actually quite mild compared to what I've had in China. This is probably a good thing because we can eat more of it, and also means that you can taste more of the food!

Another szechuan dish that I love is the Boiled Fish Szechuan Style. 320 baht. Although I love it, I must say that when I ordered it in China, I usually end up as the only person eating it! I think this might be because there, we get the whole fish, and I guess my friends found it troublesome to pick out the bones...or may be they were afraid it's going to be too spicy looking at the layer of chilli oil on top!

At China Kitchen, fish fillet is used, so it's very easy to eat. The chilli oil "soup" is delicious on rice and is also quite spicy. I quite enjoyed the almost creamy consistency of the "soup".

... And having all these spicy food, it's a good idea to order some cool veggies to munch on while you take a break. The Crisp Lettuce with Sesame Paste. 110 baht. The cool, crisp lettuce was a great accompaniment to the meal (especially when we needed a break from all the other spicy dishes!).

Last but not least... another favourite Szechuan dish - Crispy Chicken with Dried Chilli. 90 baht. The chicken pieces were beautifully fried, with deep salty flavour and also crispy skin. There's also some peanut to add a bit of a crunch to the dish.

So, if you're game to try some szechuan dishes, China Kitchen is a good choice. The food is excellent and prices not too bad. They do have some non-spicy dishes too. The staff are all very friendly.

China Kitchen
Shangri-La Hotel
Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: 6:00pm-10:00pm
Closed on Mondays

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Woo - Cafe, Art Gallery & Lifestyle Shop

Woo Cafe.. Here's a rather cool, trendy and very popular cafe on the riverside strip of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. It's a great place to chill out and chat with friends over lunch or coffee (or dinner).

The cafe was already filled up by the time I arrived at 12pm, and my friends and I managed to get a communal table on the terrace.

The ambience, I would say, is comfortable & chic, somewhere you could spend the whole morning or afternoon just hanging out and chatting.

After lunch, we were able to move to the cool air-conditioned room.

I agonised over the menu a bit as I was hoping for something a bit unusual. There are the regular Thai food options, salads and various Western dishes (pasta and sandwiches).

On this occasion, may be I was going through a fussy mood, nothing really stood out (don't you hate that?)... but then, I saw Khao Yum on the menu.

Khao Yum (rice salad) is a southern Thailand dish which consists of rice (as you would imagine!), various finely chopped vegetables, herbs and spices and tamarind dressing.

When it came out, I must say it looked very pretty. Each ingredient came separately, delicately chopped in little bowls.There were two coloured rice (the blue butterfly pea rice, and pink rice), raw mango, puffed rice, kaffir lime, shredded dried shrimps, etc, etc.

Khao Yum - Before
So it was up to us to mix everything together, then add the dressing! And I must say, it was lovely and colourful! The rice salad was very light, full of flavour of the different herbs, and the sweetish and sourish tamarind based dressing. I really enjoyed every bite. Around 195-200 baht.

Khao Yum - After!
One friend ordered the Salmon Sandwich, which looked and tasted great, and comes with a bowl of nicely fried french fries. 

And another friend ordered the Tom Yum Fried Rice (which she said she had before, and it was very good). Unfortunately, Woo was out of it this time, and a pasta was ordered instead. It looked really good, and would have been good, but I think the chef forgot to add salt as there wasn't much taste to the pasta.

Overall, I really enjoyed Woo Cafe. I love the chic yet down to earth atmosphere. The cafe has a very welcoming ambience and you feel like you can just sit back and relax and have a meal or coffee and chat with friends without feeling rushed. The staff is very friendly and welcoming and the food is also pretty good. I'd love to come back to try other dishes, as well as their coffees and desserts.

Woo is on the pricey side (for a cafe), with most of the dishes being around the 180-200 baht mark.

There is some parking in front of the cafe.

The lifestyle shop part is also very nice, and has some beautiful home decorating and jewellery items for sale.

Woo - Cafe, Art Gallery & Lifestyle Shop
80 Charoenraj Rd,
T. Wat Ket, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000
Tel: 052003717
Opens: 10am-10pm

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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant (Dim Sum & Hong Kong style food)

When we talk about dim sum in Chiang Mai, there are several usual suspects - Yang Zi Jiang;  Fujian (at Dhara Dhevi); the China Kitchen at Shangri-La Hotel (which now also has great Sichuan food); and China Palace (at Holiday Inn) - which has been my family's go-to dim sum place due to the very reasonable costs and quality (about 30-40 baht / dish).

Now, we have a newcomer, Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant, owned by the same owners as Hong Kong Lucky Cafe at Nimmanhaemin Road.

Could this be the best dim sum restaurant in Chiang Mai?

Certainly the variety is there. Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant serves 35 dim sum dishes, including favourites like Hakao (steamed prawn dumplings), Siew mai, Deep Fried Taro Dumpling, Steamed Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce (my personal favourite!), and some other dishes that I haven't really seen in other dim sum places in Chiang Mai eg. Baked Bun with BBQ Pork.

I must say pretty much everything I tried was great.

Of particular note:

The Pan Fried Turnip Cake was lovely and full of flavour. There is a jar of homemade chilli oil on the table. On the first couple of visits, I piled on the chilli oil (I loved the chilli oil!), and it tasted great. On the third visit (in 3 weeks), I realised that the turnip cake tasted pretty amazing just by itself. Actually, on this visit, I did not use much of the sauces provided on the table at all.

Deep Fried Dumpling with Shrimp - This was excellent. The dumpling skin was light and crispy on the outside, and lovely and soft on the inside. Very nice texture and taste.

"Lava Custard Bun" - sorry, I don't know the name of this bun, but it's absolutely delicious. Served steaming hot (be careful, the lava is hot!!), the bun is filled with creamy eggy custard that oozes out of the bun like lava when "opened". Mmmm,... heavenly! Perfect as an end to the meal.

As mentioned above, everything was very nicely done. As we order the dishes a-la-carte, everything comes out steaming hot.

The atmosphere feels very much like a Hong Kong restaurant. There are even a few karaoke rooms upstairs. The teapots even have the plastic spouts attached to them to prevent tea from dripping.. which I think is a mark of a true Cantonese restaurant!

As for the price, the price of the dishes range from 60-130 baht, most of the dishes were around 80 baht. On my visits, we paid between  200-300 baht/person, depending on how much was ordered.

The Kitchen
Definitely a place we can keep going back to time and time again, especially since there is a whole heap of other non-dim sum dishes. Incidentally, I have been to dinner at Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant as well, and the food is also great. I especially liked the prawn wonton soup (you can choose to have it with or without noodles).

Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant
Facebook page:
5/6 Soi 7, Ratchadamnoen Road
Sriphum, Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 099 535 8883
Parking is a little difficult, but the restaurant saves 3 parking spots for customers in front.

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Italics Restaurant @ Akyra Manor Hotel

Italics, Innovative Italian. Pretty cool name! This hip and happening restaurant is in the lobby of Chiang Mai's newest boutique hotel, Akyra Manor.

The decor is rather fresh and modern. The ambience is sophisticated, stylish and cool (air-conditioning cool)!

As it was a lovely day out, my friend and I decided to have our early lunch on the terrace, which happens to also have more of a relaxing atmosphere. It was nice to just sit there, chill out and slowly enjoy the meal and do a bit of people watching.

Love the tree!
And the food? That's what we're here for, and Italics does not disappoint. The menu is very interesting, with a variety of innovative dishes created by the Executive Chef Phubase that you won't find elsewhere.

Highly recommended was Chef Phubase's signature dish, the Coffee Braised Short Rib ( 695 baht) . This is beef marinated in coffee, and slow cooked in duck fat for over 24 hours, resulting in super tender beef that's packed full of flavour but still had kind of soft roundedness to it (from the duck fat?). The beef was served in a little pot over some spinach, and also with gnocchi cooked in duck fat. The gnocchi was wonderful - slightly crispy and hard on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. It was like, wow, when everything was eaten together. The only downside for us was that this dish was quite rich and we couldn't finish it all. Lucky we had some green salad that we ordered separately. I didn't think of it at the time, but I think the beef would have been perfect with a glass of red wine.

Now the Garden Greens Salad (220 baht) was no ordinary "green salad". It also contained marinated pepper and grilled vegetables, coated in a light balsamic dressing, and served with a generous amount of parmesan. It was a great salad, very enjoyable to eat. Eat slowly to enjoy the different flavours and textures.

As for the appetiser (sorry, we're going backwards!), East Meets West (250 baht) was suggested to us. This is almost like 2 dishes - a selection of "cured and smoked" sausages, and a sweet potato and edamame salad. The sausages were very strongly flavoured and quite salty, but they went well with the lovely, milder tasting sweet potato and edamame salad (in a kind of mayonnaise dressing). The salad is a bit like a Japanese style potato salad with edamame added to give a little crunch. Great idea!

The sweet potato edamame salad is served in a sardine can. Great presentation!
For dessert, we had the Banana Ricotta Cheesecake (220 baht). This wasn't what I was expecting in terms of taste and texture. The cheesecake itself was incredibly smooth and surprisingly not sweet at all. The base also had an interesting texture, (which I can't work out!), but it wasn't like other cheesecakes that I've had. All in all, it was quite lovely.

Towards the end of the meal, Chef Phubase, and the Hotel Manager, Chris came round for a chat and asked for feedback. The restaurant (and hotel) was opened just a couple of days before. Apart from a couple of minor things, I think pretty much everything was great.

The staff was very friendly, from the guy who valet parked my car (yay! parking is available!), to the restaurant manager, Cy, and the waiters/ waitresses who took turns to man the terrace, making sure our water is topped up - very attentive service indeed!

Incidentally, Chris mentioned that they will be implementing a "Resident's Program" where residents can get 15% discount. So, if you live in Chiang Mai, it would be worth asking about this when you visit the restaurant.

Italics is an interesting addition to Chiang Mai's food scene. The service and food is great. If you're looking for somewhere for a special night out, or even just looking for something a bit different, the restaurant is worth checking out.

22/2 Nimmanhaemin Soi 9
T Suthep, A Muang
Chiang Mai 50220
Opens: Daily 11am-11pm
Tel: 053 216 219

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Gusto Site

Sometimes all you want to do after a hard week's work is to relax... Well, may be not just sometimes! So after a crazy week of work, eating (of course!), a bit of drinking and live music was in order.

I live out on the Outer Ring Road (121) and although it's not that far away, going into town or Nimman feels like a bit of a hike, and I didn't fancy going through the traffic (and looking for parking!). Fortunately, there's a cool little restaurant / cafe on the New San Kamphaeng Rd, just only about 10 min from my house. The traffic, and parking, was a breeze!

Gusto Site. A newish (about 6 month old) restaurant on the New San Kamphaeng Rd.
There's plenty of parking!

The ambience is lovely. There's a big garden and seatings inside and outside the restaurant. There's live music on Friday and Saturday nights. I've been there on a couple of Saturday nights and the band played great easy listening music. A really nice place to chill out.

The atmosphere of the restaurant / cafe. 

The food here is pretty good too. Gusto Site has mainly Thai dishes,Thai style pasta dishes, as well as various great looking desserts.

The Deep Fried Pork Belly with Galangal Chilli Dip was lovely. The pork was well seasoned, and the chilli dip was very refreshing. It's like the northern green chilli dip (Nam Prik Noom) with galangal. An interesting twist. (95 baht)

Deep Fried Pork Belly with Galangal Chilli Dip, an icy glass of Heineken.. Mmm
BTW, thanks Zalora for the green bag that I took to the restaurant. 
The Deep Fried Tilapia (Tabtim fish) with Garlic. This is also quite good and nicely done.The fish pieces (not fillets as the pieces still had bones in them) are very nicely fried with light crispy skin, and pillow soft on the inside. It comes with a sweetish sauce with galangal (I think they really like galangal here!). I found I only needed a bit of sauce on the fish as the sauce is quite sweet. 185 baht.

Deep Fried Tilapia (Tubtim) Fish with Garlic. Served with a sweet galangal sauce. 
Gaeng Ratajuan with Pork Ribs. This is quite a lovely, interesting "curry". It features a lot of the usual suspects of Thai herbs (lemongrass, kaffir lime, and other herbs) as well as shrimp paste, which makes the soup/curry really smooth with earthy flavours. Westerners may not appreciate this as it is a bit of an acquired taste due to the shrimp paste. 95 baht

Gaeng Ratajuan with Pork Ribs
What I really love most at Gusto Site (that also helped to replace the calories burnt from that morning's kickboxing session), were the desserts. Oh well, that's one of the benefits of exercising, I guess.. so we can eat more!

The French Toast is really lovely. There's a thick, buttery, slightly salty toast that contrasted well with the scoop of strawberry sorbet (which was.. wow! .. it was full of strawberry flavours). There was also half a mango and various fruits served with the french toast as well. 165 baht.

Loved the French Toast!

Their signature dessert is the Little Bear Chocolate Mousse Cake. Very cute.. and tasted great too (I love chocolate!). My friend wasn't too fussed about chocolate so I ended up eating the whole thing myself (too good to waste!). The mousse was lovely, creamy and soft, not too sweet, and very chocolatey. 95 baht.

.. and the Little Bear Chocolate Mousse Cake! So cute (and decadent)!

I really enjoyed my time chilling out and eating at Gusto Site.

The restaurant seems quite popular with local families from near by moo baans (housing estates). Worth a try if you're in the area!

Gusto Site
T. Ton Pao, A. San Kamphaeng
GPS:18.744124, 99.077092
Tel: 087 657 9889

Great live music

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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Enoteca Italian Restaurant & Buonissimo Food Affairs

A fellow foodie friend was really excited when he told me that the former executive chef of Le Meridian has teamed up with Buonissimo to open a new Italian Restaurant, Deli and wine shop at Fifth Avenue (near Meechok Plaza).

Searching for a place to eat one day, I was driving in the area and a thought, "let's drop in and see if they're open", and yes, they were. It was their 3rd day!

We were warmly welcomed by the staff. The downstairs area was quite cold (as it's also the wine shop and deli). There was a very big selection of wine, and in the deli counter, lots of cheeses, and dessert.

If you're someone like me who feels the cold (the downstairs area need to be the right temperature for the wine), you might want to head upstairs, where the temperature is a bit warmer, and where you'll also find the open kitchen, and tables with Doi Suthep view.

The menu at Enoteca is quite varied, and has interesting dishes (at least I haven't seen them before), including the Marinated Eggplant Rolls Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes. This turned out to be a rather decadent starter. It is exactly what was described in the menu. The more earthy flavour of the eggplant was highlighted with the tartness of the sun-dried tomato, and complimented well with the creaminess of the soft cheese. Lovely. 140 baht.

The Insalata Con Feta salad ordered was lovely and fresh, simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. I thought the fetta was a bit hard though (I prefer the softer variety). 180 baht.

My favourite for the meal, the "handmade" lasagne, was a dream. The chef said it was done to his mother's recipe. The pasta was so soft, and the filling full of cheese and beef flavours. I think it might have been one of the best lasagne I've had (although I must say I'm no lasagne expert!). 190baht.

I must say I'm quite impressed with Enoteca. The food and ambience is lovely. I like the decor too - simple and stylish, and the staff are very friendly. Will definitely be back to try other dishes.

Enoteca (Great Fine Wine)
555/148 Fifth Avenue
T. Nongjom, A Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
Tel: 093 272 2406

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